J. D Agarwal, a former professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur and a man who devoted his life to the cause of saving river Ganga. He is notable for a number of fasts undertaken to stop many projects on River Ganga and he was on a fast-unto-death for the last 111 days.


Once he told to British daily Guardian "This water is not ordinary water to a Hindu. It is a matter of the life and death of the Hindu faith."

GD Agarwal was born in an agricultural family in Uttar Pradesh in 1932 and completed his degree in civil engineering from the University of Roorkee (IIT Roorkee),

He procured PhD in environmental engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and he was the first member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board during 1979-80.

He was a vocal critic of the hydroelectric projects planned on the river Bhagirathi and he went on fast on multiple occasions.

His first fast was in 2009, against the Loharinag Pala Hydro Power Project, which forced the government to suspend the dam construction.

Later In 2011, he repudiated material pursuits and became a sanyasi, then he accepts the name Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand.

He was not satisfied with the activities of National Ganges River Basin Authority set up for cleaning the Ganga, organized by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and once again he started an indefinite fast in 2013.

After a two-and-a-half month long fast, the government finally decided to convene a meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) after a gap of 18 months.

In February 2018, Agrawal sent an open letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recommending him to stop environmentally unfriendly projects and to keep the flow of the Ganga uninterrupted. He was urging a stop on all projects on the Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers.

On June 22, 2018, he sat on another indefinite fast and on October 9, he stopped drinking water, refused to take medicine, water and juice orally. At last, he ended his life on the 111th day of his fast at AIIMS Rishikesh.

Image credit: APN live

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